Liverpool’s amazingly diverse cultural roots, going back centuries, ensure creativity in every sense of the word. Liverpool’s stereotypes are vast and varied, it is known for being Capital of Culture, its music and its two rival football teams, but when talking about Liverpool, design isn’t always the first thing to spring to mind, but things are starting to change…

This city has a rich array of highly innovative and visible design in both its historic and contemporary architecture; its lengthy tradition of musical heritage is undeniable and the art scene is as vibrant and important as ever.

The North West has been home to some of the country’s most celebrated design names such as Dick Powell, Ross Lovegrove and Wayne Hemmingway and more designers than ever are making their name in Liverpool.

Kirsty Doyle, the 2006 winner of Project Catwalk, has come far in the few years since she won the UK’s inaugural reality television fashion design competition. She now sells her incredibly desirable collections from her city centre boutique.

Ilsa Parry recently won a BBC2 reality documentary show hosted and fronted by Philippe Starck where she battled against eleven other competitors selected from hundreds of entries to go on and spend six months in Paris working at the Starck Agency on projects for Kartell and Fossil. Ilsa Parry now runs her product design agency from her workshop and studio in Liverpool and is currently the programme leader for 3D design at Hope University.

Liverpool is home to many independent shops, galleries and studios that are bursting with creativity. A testament to the thriving creative scene in Liverpool is Utility, a contemporary design boutique located on the prestigious Bold Street. It opened its doors in November 1999 when there was nowhere to buy contemporary designed home accessories or gifts in the city. Over the past few years, Utility has expanded to open two other city centre stores, an online shop and a boutique in Preston. This is where you will find the city’s very best range of contemporary furniture, lighting and home accessories.

The Bluecoatis an important central figure to art and design in the city. Bluecoat Display Centre situated off the central courtyard, has an eclectic mix of contemporary craft and design work by British makers. It also has a programme of temporary exhibitions and workshops.

An organisation called Design Initiative has always been at the forefront of promoting design in Liverpool. Recognising a surge in Liverpool as a centre of creativity, Design Initiative co-produced the inaugural Design Show Liverpool in line with the Capital of Culture celebration is 2008. This was a highly successful event that has, year on year, grown into a popular festival.

Its success has enabled Design Initiative to expand it into a ten-day Liverpool Design Festival. Now in its second year, the Festival celebrates and promotes quality design and encourages appreciation from the widest possible audience. Design Initiative is keen to engage the public with inspiring design ideas that they would find intriguing, that would raise awareness at a local and national level about the high quality products being created in Liverpool.

The Festival achieves this through a rich selection of citywide events ranging from design trails and school competitions to interactive seminars and talks, all taking place alongside a major design showcase and selling event. In 2009 it encouraged an audience of 8,500 to appreciate and participate in design led activities that generated a significant visitor spend within the local economy.

The Design Showis now a signature event at the heart of the Festival and this November aims to showcase the best in contemporary design from Liverpool and the North West with other talent from the rest of the UK placing Liverpool firmly on the wider design map and complementing festivals in London, Cardiff, Bristol and the Design Event North East.

This year is set to be more exciting than ever and Design Show will present a selection of over eighty stimulating and original interior products, glass, ceramics, furniture, lighting, jewellery, textiles and fashion. It is a unique experience for everybody to be a part of and well worth a visit. The Festival will also include a programme of design seminars and talks, fringe events involving designers, makers and photographers, professional development workshops for fashion designers and a schools competition.

The quality of work and debate highlighted within the Liverpool Design Festival is indicative of the region’s ability to nurture further design stars of the future. Liverpool is bursting with an original, vibrant, alive and surprising design scene that remains largely unexplored by those who could enjoy it the most.

The Liverpool Design Festival will run from the 18th November to 27th November 2010. The Design Show at St Georges Hall is open to the public on the 20th and 21st November 2010

Tickets for the event cost £5 on the door and discounted advance tickets cost £4 from the festival website


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